Picasso in Seattle!

October 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

Here is a better reason than outlet shopping for braving the three-hour drive from Vancouver to Seattle: Picasso! Over 150 works by the Spanish master will be shown at the Seattle Art Museum starting today and going through January 17th. The range of works includes pieces from virtually every phase of Picasso’s legendary career and all medium he dabbed on: paintings, prints, drawings, photographs and sculptures.

This unprecedented opportunity is possible at this time because the Musée Picasso has recently closed for renovations, allowing a global tour of this full-scale survey to travel for the first and, probably, the only time. The Musée Picasso’s holdings stand apart from any other collections of Picasso because they represent the artist’s personal collection—works that the highly self-aware artist kept for himself with the intent of shaping his own artistic legacy.

This is the first major survey of the long and productive career of Pablo Picasso to ever be seen in the Northwest. The exhibition is curated by Anne Baldassari, General Curator of the exhibition and Chief Curator of Collections and Chairman of the Musée National Picasso, Paris.

Tickets are $23 for adults and can be bought online.

Vancouver Art Gallery’s relocation – FAQ

October 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

Last night, the Vancouver Art Gallery held at the Museum of Vancouver its last-in-a-series of Public Information Sessions about its proposed relocation . I couldn’t participate but asked Greg Johnson, PR of the relocation program, to answer a few questions. Here is what he sent me:

An enthusiastic crowd left standing room only at the Museum of Vancouver. Despite what’s been reported recently by various media outlets, people were very obviously engaged and passionate about the future of the VAG.

Before opening the floor up to questions from the public, Lance Berelowitz, Principal, Urban Forum Associates moderated a panel that included:
• Kathleen Bartels , Director, Vancouver Art Gallery
• Michael Audain , Gallery Trustee and Chair, Relocation Committee
• Andrew Pask , Vancouver Public Space Network
• Landon Mackenzie, Artist and Professor, Emily Carr University of Art + Design

Why does the VAG want to relocate?

Kathleen Bartels, Director, Vancouver Art Gallery, put it best in her opening remarks:
The VAG is “bursting at the seams” and the former courthouse is an “aging and outdated” building. The Gallery has gone through 10 years of growth, and with success comes change.

Daily challenges faced by the Gallery:

•Only 3% of the permanent collection is on view at any given time. The vault is full to overflowing. The Gallery has had to resort to costly offsite storage for part of the permanent collection.

•Line-ups and overcrowding during exhibitions. The Vancouver Art Gallery’s permanent exhibition space is 10 times smaller than the average North American museum.

•There’s no dedicated space for educational and school programs. In fact, the VAG’s popular educational programs were booked full during the first week of school. 20,000 school kids will be turned away over the course of the year.

•There’s no theatre, lecture hall or gathering space. That means no room for family and adult programs, artist’s talks, lectures or special events.

Why can’t the VAG just expand its current site?

The Gallery’s first impulse was to look at renovating and expanding the current building. However, that option quickly proved more difficult and costly than building a new Gallery.

Here’s why:
• Higher costs. Expansion on the current site would actually cost more than constructing a new building on a new site.

• Heritage constraints on the current building. The former provincial courthouse is a designated federal National Historic Site and is an “A” listed heritage building, which would greatly limit renovation and expansion options.

• Expansion restrictions above and below the Georgia Plaza. Not everyone knows the VAG is already underground. Much of the Gallery’s archives and collections storage is below the Georgia Plaza and extends as far east as Howe Street.

• Major interruptions. Expanding the current Robson Square location would require closing the Vancouver Art Gallery for a period as long as three years. This would mean job losses for many Gallery staff as well as the costly relocation of the Gallery’s permanent collection.

Has a new location already been chosen?

No, but the Art Gallery has indicated its preference for the site at 150 Dunsmuir , otherwise known at Larwill Park (Georgia and Cambie). The site is owned by the City of Vancouver and currently a parking lot.

More than a dozen sites were carefully reviewed. Each was weighed against set criteria and the only site that was deemed suitable was 150 Dunsmuir.

Michael Audain heads up the VAG’s relocation committee. He had these words at last night’s public info session: “Yes, we considered the Post Office. Yes, the Sears Building, too. Even Deadman’s Island. Land in downtown Vancouver is among the most expensive anywhere in North America, except maybe San Francisco. I could find a site more easily in Manhattan than I could here in Vancouver.”

Artist and Emily Carr professor Langdon Mackenzie said this: “Other cities had to tear down rows and blocks of housing to create their galleries. We just want a parking lot. Our parking lot. A lot we already own.”

What is going to happen to the current site?

The old courthouse building isn’t going anywhere. It’s a cherished, historic building and well protected by heritage legislation.

The former courthouse is owned by the Province of BC and leased to the City of Vancouver. The City of Vancouver in turn leases it to the Vancouver Art Gallery.

That means the Vancouver Art Gallery has no say in who becomes the next tenant.

Some organizations have stepped forward to express an interest in moving into the former courthouse. These include the Museum of Vancouver, the University of British Columbia and the law courts.

How much will a new Gallery cost? Who will pay?

First things first, the Gallery needs to secure a site. Only once that’s done can the cost of a new Gallery be accurately estimated.

But, by looking at similar new galleries recently built across North America, the current estimate is approximately $350 million.

Once the site has been secured, the VAG will launch a fundraising campaign. Currently, even before a site has been chosen, an architect selected or a design drafted, the Gallery has already raised more than $90 million.

$50 million has come from the Province of British Columbia for the building of a new gallery. $42 million has been pledged by private donors.

Does a new, bigger gallery mean more art?

In a word, yes. How, exactly, remains to be seen once designs are put forward.

Among the ideas and possibilities floated by VAG Director Kathleen Bartels and others at the public info sessions:
• Permanent collection on permanent display
• Sculpture garden
• Free public access to the permanent collection
• A gallery dedicated to Emily Carr

VIFF Brings a Great Line-Up of Arts Movies To Town

September 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

This year’s Vancouver International Film Festival brings to town an extraordinary collection of documentaries on the world of visual arts. I had the opportunity to preview some of them and there is something for every art lover. From Emily Carr to Jean-Michel Basquiat.

The latter is brought to us by American director Tamra Davis who put this definitive documentary on the dread-locked artist out of hundreds of hours of footage taken in the 80s. It’s a pleasure to see so many of the artists compelling paintings at full frame on the large screen. The Radiant Child is an unique opportunity of having a very intimate glimpse at the artist’s life and creative process.

Waste Land made me review my opinion on Brazilian artist Vik Muniz. His work seemed somehow easy to me – a great idea well-executed but more on the realm of brilliant illustration than actual contemporary art. Muniz is the most recognized Brazilian artist abroad, with exhibitions attracting thousands of people and photographs selling for thousands of dollars. The movie, directed by Lucy Walker, follows Vik in an art project where he creates large-scale portraits of a group of “catadores” (pickers), who collect recyclable material from Brazil’s largest landfill, using material found in the trash. The human component makes the difference and I followed each individual story with interest until the final outcome, when the works are showed in an exhibition at Rio’s Museum of Modern Art in 2008.

This link for the full Fine Arts Series.

More VIFF soon, here in The Art Monitor.

Homemade is Best

September 24, 2010 § Leave a comment

Photographer Carl Kleiner shot this amazing pics for IKEA‘s new baking book, called “Hembakat är Bäst” (Homemade is Best).  (via Today and Tomorrow)

Ikea / Styling Evelina Bratell - Mazarin

Ikea / Styling Evelina Bratell - Semlor

Phyllis Galembo

September 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

Phyllis Galembo is an American photographer and author of books on ethnic, cultural, Halloween, masquerade, ritual ceremony and dress from Africa and Caribbean.

Last June, the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art showed Galembo’s works alongside Nick Cave’s soundsuits. You can see photos here.

Cross River, Nigeria

Ngar Ball Traditional Masquerade Dance, Cross River, Nigeria, 2004

Cross River, Nigeria

Baby Dance of Etikpe, Cross River, Nigeria, 2004

Cross River, Nigeria
Atiya traditional dance, Nkarasi I, Cross River, Nigeria, 2004

Kerry James Marshall at the VAG

September 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

The grandiose and touching exhibition of Kerry James Marshall at the VAG makes it to the pages of Art Forum. Kudos to Kathleen Bartels (and our Jeff Wall) for putting together one of the most beautiful exhibitions of the year so far and for her overall brilliant work as the head of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Kerry James Marshall

Through January 3 2011
Curated by Kathleen Bartels and Jeff Wall

Kerry James Marshall’s 1993 canvas De Style, a vibrant, large-scale, multifigure painting of an African-American barbershop, was a breakthrough for the artist and set the basic parameters of his ensuing practice. In the years since, he has updated the ostensibly moribund genre of history painting with an important corpus of visually complex narrative tableaux. For the Chicago-based painter’s first solo show in Canada, De Style will join some twenty more recent works, including examples from his iconic series “Garden Project,” 1995, which richly reimagines the representation of public housing projects.(read more)

The Games are Open

September 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

August 5, The Games Are Open

Photo by Vancouver Sun

wheatboard announcement

Now that the Games are over The Games are Open can be viewed from Friday, September 10th.

A project by German artists Folke Kobberling and Martins Kaltwasser, this massive sculpture representing a bulldozer is made of 1,000 wheat board panels liberated from the neighbouring 2010 Olympic and Paralympic

Presented by Other Sights for Artists’ Projects. The Games are Open is curated by Barbara Cole and is the second project of When the Hosts Come Home, a series of artists’ works that address issues of sustainability in the development of South East False Creek and will deteriorate gradually, becoming fodder to be offered to the gardens throughout the neighbouring development.

The constructing crew is formed by students of UBC, Emily Carr and Langara.

Julian Schnabel at the AGO

September 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

Julian Schnabel:  Asia, 2007 oil on map mounted on linen

Julian Schnabel: Art and Film

September 1, 2010 – January 2, 2011
Art Gallery of Ontario

American art superstar Julian Schnabel has spent his life pushing the limits of painting and crossing artistic boundaries as an award-winning filmmaker. Now, for the first time, a major retrospective examines the connections between painting and film in Schnabel’s work, tracing how his paintings exist in dialogue with the cinema and revealing the rich interplay between the two media. Julian Schnabel: Art and Film surveys Schnabel’s work as a painter from the mid-1970s to the present and features more than 25 key works. The exhibition will occupy the entire fifth floor of the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Vivian & David Campbell Centre for Contemporary Art.

Tha Canadian Pavilion at Venice Architecture Biennale 2010

August 31, 2010 § Leave a comment

Via designboom

‘Hhylozoic Ground‘, Canada’s official national pavilion for this year’s La Biennale di Venezia, is an experimental piece of architecture that explores the qualities of contemporary wilderness. Designed by Canadian architect and sculptor Philip Beesley, the installation is constructed out of an intricate system of transparent acrylic meshwork links, covered with a network of interactive mechanical fronds, filters, and whiskers. (read more)

Fall Fashion: Nick Cave’s Soundsuits

August 28, 2010 § 1 Comment

Hats off to this Vogue’s September issue. The magazine put together purses  and Nick Cave’s soundsuits in a great-looking fashion photo essay. Chicago-based artist Nick Cave (not to be confused with the Australian musician of the same name) is an Alvin Ailey-trained dancer and posed for the photos wearing some of his most theatrical and surreal sound sculptures.
Raised by a single mother, Nick inherited most of his clothes from the elder of his six brothers. Re-fashioning them with objects found around the house was the starting point for these pieces.

Unfortunately you can’t see the photos online – go buy the magazine and get some extra 790 pages of fashion.

Ah, I wonder what the Sartorialist would say about these suits…
Ceremonial dance costumes or playful stuffed animals?